In at least one study, the number one difference between those who struggle with insomnia and those who enjoy restful-nightly slumber is whether or not they engage in a wind down activity before bed. That’s right; even having excessive stress and worry in your life is less likely to keep you tossing and turning than if you go straight from activity to bed.
To enjoy better slumber read a magazine or moderately stimulating book, cross stitch, work puzzles (unless you get frustrated with them), or do a similarly relaxing activity using a book lamp or a low light headlamp. Wait until you’re very sleepy, even drifting off, before turning out the light.
Lighting is key. Bright lights and even low lights shone toward your face will interfere with the production of Melatonin, a hormone that is secreted at night that is necessary for the onset of sleep. Sitting close to a computer screen and watching today’s large TVs just before going to bed are the biggest culprits of sleep interference. Winding down will be more effective if you install dimmers in the rooms you are likely to use near bedtime. Leave them as dim as possible at least 30 minutes before you plan to “hit the hay.”
Yellow light doesn't interfere with Melatonin like the blue light emitted from lighted screens. So if the relaxing things you do before bed involve a screen, you have options! 1. justgetflux.com turns your screen more yellow as the night progresses, 2. iPhones - go to “Display & Brightness” and activate Night Shift where you can choose when your display goes yellow. 3. Buy yellow tinted sun glasses or yellow glasses made specifically for this purpose.
Winding down can also include changing your clothes for bed and brushing your teeth. Wait to slip into your PJs and brush your teeth until right before your wind down activity. Also, patience is helpful. If you suffer from insomnia, this relaxing change may take more than a week before you start to sleep better and up to two weeks before your new habits reach their maximum effectiveness.
Don’t have time to do a wind down? Really? Consider that you may be very tired within a few minutes and could fall asleep a few minutes later. Isn’t that much better than tossing and turning for hours?
Tune in soon for more blogposts on Insomnia!